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‘I love this hospital. It saved my life’: Residents show support for Fort Erie urgent car

Posted: September 26, 2023

(September 25, 2023)

By: Sarah Ferguson Niagara, The Standard

June Robinson says she has spent so much time at the Douglas Memorial Hospital site that most of the staff know her by name.

This past summer, when Niagara Health announced the urgent care centres (UCC) in Fort Erie and Port Colborne would no longer provide 24-hour services, and instead accept patients between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., Robinson grew concerned.

When her great-grandchildren need medical attention, the 86-year-old great-grandmother brings them to the urgent care centre on Bertie Street. Driving out of town, especially overnight, is not something Robinson is comfortable with.

“The kids live with their grandmother, who is legally blind and cannot drive, so when they need something, I take them,” Robinson said. “Usually, when that happens, it’s in the middle of the night.”

When she heard the Yellow Shirt Brigade, a local group of health-care advocates, was organizing a vigil in front of the UCC on Monday, Sept. 25, Robinson knew she had to attend.

More than 25 people stood in front of the Douglas Memorial Hospital site, including local dignitaries such as Mayor Wayne Redekop, Coun. Joan Christensen, and regional representative Tom Insinna. Many of the protesters donned yellow T-shirts with the word “No” written across the front, and waved signs to passersby.

Two of those protesters were Robinson’s great-grandchildren, Jacob Baker, and his sister, Addison Baker.

“I love this hospital, it’s saved my life,” 10 year-old Jacob said, speaking about why he wanted to attend the protest.

The young health advocate said he has been treated for multiple bouts of pneumonia at the UCC and having access to nearby care is important.

“I’ve definitely been here too many times to count,” he said.

Robinson said Addison was born in the back of a car, while her mother was on the way to the St. Catharines Hospital site to give birth.

The event coincided with a protest on the lawn of Queen’s Park where thousands gathered on Monday to show their opposition to the provincial plans for privatization of health care.

The Ontario Health Coalition, which is an organization dedicated to protecting public health care, organized the protest.

Yellow Shirt Brigade member Joy Russell said there were many people that wanted to attend the protest in Toronto, but it wasn’t possible due to age, health, or lack of transportation.

As motorists honked their horns in a show of support, Russell said the vigil was an opportunity for people to get involved locally, and show support for the hardworking health-care workers that serve the Fort Erie community.

“This is one way to thank our health-care workers, and let them know that they are important to us,” Russell said.

Born and raised in Fort Erie, Linda York said having access to a local hospital is important to the community, and the health care provided at Douglas Memorial when it was a hospital and now an UCC are essential.

“I was born here (at Douglas Memorial), I had my tonsils taken out here, I had my appendix out here, a hysterectomy here and four of my grandchildren were born here,” she said.

“Politicians make all these choices for people and now if I need care, I have to call an ambulance or hope a neighbour can drive me.”

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